Audi unveils cars that talk to traffic lights


German car manufacturer Audi is introducing new technology that allows its vehicles to communicate with traffic lights – a concept with the potential to ease traffic flow and improve driver behaviour in future.

Select 2017 Q7 and A4 models built after June 1st 2016 are to be equipped with the V-to-I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) system, which works by displaying a countdown timer telling the driver how long it will take for a red light to change to green, or to warn them when it is too late to make it through an approaching signal that is about to turn red.

This technology will only work in cities with compatible traffic signalling systems, meaning it could be some years away from a broader rollout. Currently, Audi is planning to introduce the feature in between five and seven US cities, although it has not yet specified which locations will be included in this initial wave.

It represents Audi’s first foray into V-to-I technology, with Pom Malhotra, general manager of Audi’s connected vehicles division, observing that the tool “is designed not as a safety feature, but a comfort and convenience feature”.

However, further development of the technology could result in a broader range of applications, including by linking it to the car’s navigation system or stop/start functions. This would make it possible for the system to advise the driver to maintain the vehicle at a certain speed in order to match the flow of lights.

It could also be incorporated into driverless cars to help them navigate traffic networks safely without the need to physically see the lights themselves, instead relying on the wireless data they receive from the system. When used in conjunction with vehicle-to-vehicle communications, the technology will create numerous possibilities for easing congestion and preventing accidents.

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